Keith Douglas and Elizabeth Bellavance call themselves “very private people” who didn’t expect to become anti-industrial wind turbine activists.
They both grew up in rural Lambton, became veterinarians and eventually moved in 1997 to a farm on Plympton-Wyoming’s Aberarder Line.
They were attracted by a view that rolls down to a creek and up a tree-covered hill.
The farm’s workable acres are share-cropped but Douglas has also planted thousands of trees.
Not far behind the house, the fence of a horse pasture stretches out from the barn and down the hill.
Mixed in with papers on a coffee table inside is an architect’s rendition of a new home the couple planned to build to take advantage of the view.
“We let go of that plan last summer,” Bellavance said.
About seven years before, a fellow came up their lane way looking for farmland to lease for a wind farm project.
Suncor Energy Projects has a Feed-In Tariff contract to sell energy from its up to 46-turbine Cedar Point Wind Power project. The company is now in the late stages of working through provincial approval to build the wind farm that will stretch across Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and into Warwick Township.
“We didn’t just brush him off,” Bellavance said about the man who came offering a wind lease. “We had a look.”
The couple reviewed the contract offer, went to meetings and tracked down what research was available at the time about wind energy.
“There really wasn’t a lot of negative information, at the time,” Bellavance said.
But, they still eventually declined the wind company’s offer.
“It didn’t seem like the right thing to do to our land, to dig a big hole and pour a whole whack of cement in there,” he said.
“It didn’t feel right,” she added.
They were also concerned about the risk of losing control over their land if they signed on.
In the years since, Suncor’s plans have progressed and the couple has been told the project’s nearest turbine will be 1.8 km from their farm. They also expect the horizon to be filled with turbines, leading the decision to abandon plans for a new house.
But, Bellavance said the couple doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for them.
“If it was all about us, I tell you, we would have just built somewhere else,” she said.
“It’s grown into an issue that is much bigger than us.”
They’ve learned over the years about noise issues, health concerns, and worries about property values when turbines go up.
“I think that’s when we started to realize how many injustices there were,” she said.
“We suddenly found ourselves doing things we never would consider doing.”
They attended a meeting organized by the citizen’s group We’re Against Industrial Turbines – Plympton-Wyoming (WAIT-PW) just to see what they might learn, and ended up motivated to get involved.
That’s when the very private couple began travelling down lane ways to talk to others about the impact of wind turbines, and ask them to sign petitions and buy anti-wind turbine signs.
Lambton County is home to some of Ontario’s strongest opposition to wind projects, she said.
“We have a lot of momentum and the momentum is continuing to build.”
WAIT-PW members plan to be out at the three public open houses Suncor is holding this week.
The group will offer residents its own information about wind turbines and ask them to sign letters opposing the project.
The first open house is Tuesday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Camlachie Community Centre.
The second is Wednesday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Legacy Recreation Centre in Thedford, and the third is Thursday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Watford’s Centennial Hall.
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